NOW WHAT?

Avoiding the stumbling blocks!

what now

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

The road to success is paved with hard work. There are no short cuts, and every journey is an individual one. Two of the most destructive stumbling blocks you will encounter are:

  1. self-doubt
  2. unsolicited advice

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:20

Self doubt is often created by the internal worry that we somehow do not measure up to the task, whatever it may be. In his famous book The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale gives us the secret to happiness: “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”  Self doubt tells us that we can’t succeed, we’ll never win, and that happiness in the form of success will be forever denied us because we are not good enough. The key to remember is that if we were born with a healthy ‘normal’ body, we have the same opportunities in life as any other individual with a similar origin. Sometimes we’ll have people along the road of life to encourage and help us , and sometimes the journey will be a hard and lonely one. The strongest people in life have managed to cast away self doubt and pave their own paths. There is great power in succeeding at a challenge we have set for ourselves. The reward is knowing that we accomplished what the naysayers  told us we could not do. God never gives us anything that we cannot overcome.

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The Narrow Gate

In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.… –Matthew 7:12-14

“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Burt Lance

Always consider the source when receiving unsolicited advice. Someone telling you not to fix something that works will hold you back from finding a better way to do it. Likewise, if you are doing something that  is working for you, but which is not the way that someone else is doing it, remember that everyone is different. What works for you MIGHT not work for them, and vice versa. As long as you are not doing something illegal or immoral, if it works, keep doing it.  Just because ‘everyone else is doing it’ doesn’t mean you should do it too just to appease them. The only person you are competing with is yourself.   You just need to check yourself to see if you are improving. This is easily accomplished by keeping careful records of your progress. For example, I myself have been struggling with my weight for years, and it took a lot of trial and error before I chanced upon a diet and exercise program that worked for me.  I have carefully monitored and recorded my weight for years. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I discovered a few dietary supplements, meal plans and exercise programs that broke the chains that had been holding me back.  Nine months ago I began competitive running, and now I monitor my progress with that, so I see the results. More importantly,  OTHER people have taken notice of the external changes to my physique, and they have been inspired by it. Actions speak louder than words, and results are hard to argue with. The proof is in the pudding.  If it works, KEEP doing it, never quit, never surrender!

The most important thing you can do in life is to lead by example. You are being watched all the time by everyone in your life, whether or not you are aware of it. It is better to be held up in high esteem as an example of what is possible, as opposed to being a cautionary tale of what NOT to do in life. There are too many fools who took the short-cut down ‘Easy Street’ which lead to destruction. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, live your life the right way, and remember that life is YOUR life, and you are the one who need to live it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE END IS THE BEGINNING!

Life is a journey!

the end is the beginning

“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Anonymous.

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul made a metaphor between his life and career in the first century church equating it with a road race.  

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Paul the Apostle (from 2 Timothy 4:7)

This was one of the many ways the early leadership of the church created bridges between people to connect unfamiliar concepts to various individuals. As I began running road races last year in 2019,  I quickly came to realize how appropriate this comparison was. Before I even attempted my first 5K, my goal was to run a marathon. 5K is 3.1 miles, and a marathon is about nine times that at 26.2 miles. I was inspired by Nathan Maxwell  @socialshark , a friend on Twitter who was an ultra-marathoner. Nate and I connected through a love of coffee. When the internet was in its infancy, it was referred to as The Super Information Highway. Now we have social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The thing about social media is that it allows individuals to share ideas, images and information of all sorts at a rapid-fire pace, with little or no filter. This double-edged sword has both brought some people closer, while at the same time destroying some relationships.   I am often amazed at the number of people around the world who check in regularly to read my weekly Sunday opinion piece. It is quite humbling.  

Running is a lifestyle choice. Like many things, you do it for as long as you can, on a regular basis. Once you quit, often there is no going back.

 “The end is in the beginning.” – T.S. Eliot

The First Key to success in life is proper planning executed at an early time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I am currently using a lot of racing and health metaphors because of the interconnectivity of health and wealth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth IS your health!” As I prepare for my first marathon at the end of 2020, today I run my first official race of the year, a 10K in Muhlenberg PA. Last year I ran a dozen races, from 5Ks to half-marathons. In 2020, my plan is to run twice that, both in distance and frequency. Each of these races has an entry fee. Had my finances not been in order, I could not afford to do this. As an athlete in training for competition, I have certain nutritional requirements. Dietary supplements , special meal plans, and better quality organic produce all cost money. Again, had I not taken steps years ago to fix my finances, I would not be in a position to afford these added costs. Not to mention I also need to buy quality running shoes and gym clothes.  

The Second Key to success in life is you have to want it. That should be obvious, but saying you WANT it and actually wanting it enough to do the work to attain the goal are two different things. When you really WANT something, the effort you are putting into attaining that goal should be outwardly apparent to anyone observing you. Actions speak louder than words, but RESULTS shout from the rooftops! 

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The Third Key is not giving up. The road is long and hard, and there are many stumbling blocks.  My most grueling 5K of 2019 was a night run obstacle course, The Zombie Fun Run. The ‘fun’ stopped when I wrenched my knee as I slipped on a muddy hill. I was terribly concerned with each painful step that I would not be able to finish, but I managed to limp my way to the end. In a couple of days, I was right as rain again.  The first half-marathon I ran two months prior also was fun, until I hit the 9th mile, and was breaking personal distance records. That was when I started getting leg cramps.  I also limped to the end that time.  DNF (Did Not Finish) is currently not in my vocabulary. I have completed every race I signed up for. ONLY once (during the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run) was I DFL (Last), but I did finish.  Often when I am in such trying periods, struggling to reach the finish line, another quote from the Apostle Paul comes to mind.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Paul the Apostle (from Philippians 4:13)

Just like Nate’s Twitter posts inspired me to begin running, other folks I have connected with have inspired me to continue. One fellow runner who is truly amazing is Bruce Cronrath. Bruce is 76 years old, has a replacement knee and still runs half-marathons.  Whenever  we race,  he’s usually a few minutes faster than I am. I currently run about a  12 minute mile, and outweigh Bruce by over 100lbs. Bruce is a Vietnam  Vet and a credit to our country. He is the perfect example of never giving up, and demonstrates what is possible when you devote a lifetime of dedication to a healthy lifestyle  . I hope that when I reach his age, I have his level of stamina and endurance as well.

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Hopefully I have encouraged you through my blog to rise to new heights in whatever pursuits you wish to engage in. You can accomplish it as long as you give it everything you’ve got and never quit!  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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WHAT’S YOUR VISION?

Go for the gold in 2020!

WHATS YOUR VISION

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  – Anonymous

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Having put 2019 behind us and recuperated with a long winter’s  nap we are now faced with a fresh new year.  2020 is a golden opportunity to begin again. We can brush off our failures, learn from our mistakes, and build up higher from our successes. The future is mainly how we see it. The term 20/20 is used by optometrists to describe normal, clear and ‘perfect’ vision in a person.  So your primary goal in 2020 is to make your life this year better than it was last year. Everyone faces difficulties in life, but no one ever said life was going to be easy or fair. Living is a process that we all go though  and some of us will always be more successful than others. There will always be someone smarter, faster, richer and better-looking than you. That is NO excuse to give up and do nothing. Nothing happens by itself. Success is a process that takes action, time, hard-work, resources, and most of all, determination. The moment you say ‘I can’t’, you are DONE! Many people defeat themselves before they even start due to their negative outlook. You cannot have a positive life with a negative mind.   

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Define your terms!

Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

  • Action : the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.
  • Goal : the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
  • Idea :  a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
  • Plan : a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
  • Process:  a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
  • Strategy : a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
  • Vision : the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.– Proverbs 21:5

Clarity of vision begins with the understanding that certain actions have to be undertaken to achieve the desired goal.  It is a PROCESS! You must learn to crawl, before you learn to walk. Success takes steps. Overnight success stories are so rare as to be practically myths. ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes are the pursuit of fools. If being successful were THAT easy, EVERYONE would be wealthy.

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Lead by example!

Your actions speak louder than your words. There are countless motivational speakers and coaches on the lecture circuit. The reasons for this are as varied as the number of self-improvement books on the shelf. They are all variations on the same theme, and as the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” The best type of motivation comes from within. YOU have to want it! YOU have to do it! No one can live your life for you.  When YOU decide that ‘enough is enough’ and that ‘something must be done’ is when the process of self-discovery and healing begins. This is YOUR LIFE! I want you to be happy and successful, but I can’t do the work for you. I can give you the tools but you must use them and do the work yourself.  It will not be easy, but I assure you, in the end it will be worth it.

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In 2019, I took up distance running with the goal of working towards eventually running a full marathon or longer. A marathon is 26.2 miles. My first official run of 2019 was a 5K race (3.1 miles). I trained for two months before I even undertook that initial run.  Prior to that first run, I had no idea how I would physically handle the challenge, but I was determined to complete it. Over the course of 2019 I ran a dozen official timed races ranging from 5Ks to half-marathons. As I built up to the longer distances, the shorter distances became cakewalks.   I put my fitness plan into action and began the process towards achieving my goal. Along the way, I received great advice and encouragement from peers in the running community who lifted my spirit to greater heights.

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I hit 2020 running from the first! On New Year’s Day January 1st, 2020 I ran my first un-official  5K race with another runner in my running pack. It was just the two of us, mono a mono. It was symbolic as Steve Capozello  was much faster than I, so I had no expectation of beating him.  The result was not the important part, running the race was. Next Sunday Jan 12th 2020 is my first OFFICIAL race of the year, number 2 in the ‘Shiver by the River’ winter running series held in Muhlenberg PA on second Sundays from December through March. In 2020 my plan is to have at least one OFFICIAL race every single month, sometimes running up to four races. I intend to run twice as many races as last year with the goal of running a full marathon in November. Again, had I not started this process of self-improvement I would not be able to attain these milestones that I have been reaching along the way. It was NOT luck. I did the work, and I ran the race. I share this with you not for bragging rights, but as encouragement to demonstrate that it IS POSSIBLE to do. You just have to want it first! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

A LONG WINTER’S NAP

Wrapping up 2019

A LONG WINTERS NAP

“A Visit from Saint Nickolas” is a well-known poem written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. Some people refer to the poem by it’s opening line, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  This traditional poem was written by Moore for his children, a fairy-tale to amuse them, and he originally published it anonymously.  The eight line of the poem  “Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.” As we wrap-up 2019 and put a bow on it, this is perhaps the best piece of advice I can leave you with.

I started writing my blog http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com over two years ago on September 10th 2017. This is my 113th article.

The vast majority of our troubles are wealth related. Improving our wealth situation is key to improving our lives to attain success and happiness. Wealth is not only about money and finance, there are three main components of wealth . 

  1. Money is the first thing people think of. It’s nice to have, but it’s just a tool. Like any tool if you misuse it, you will break it, or hurt yourself. You must learn to use it responsibly and skillfully.
  2.  The second is your health, and more precious than silver or gold. Investing time, money, and effort in attaining the peak of physical health will do wonders for your attitude.  
  3. Last but not least, is your wealth of knowledge.  The more wise you become, the greater your chances of stumbling upon the solution to whatever it is that is holding you back from achieving your dreams. Oftentimes, it is a sobering revelation to discover the greatest obstacle keeping us from accomplishing our goals is ourselves.

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In three days it will be Christmas Day. Six days later it will be New Year’s Eve. The year is more or less over.  Aside from a few last-minute-gift shopping, and maybe wrapping some presents, it’s all downhill from here. The hard stuff has be done, or never will be at this point. If you busted your ass this past year, take the remaining days to rest. You’ve earned your long winter’s nap. Bask in the warm glow of your accomplishments as you look back upon all you did. You earned it. 2020 is days away and you need to rest-up so that you can achieve new heights in the coming year!

On a personal note, my greatest accomplishment this past year was training to run half-marathons, something which was greatly aided by the encouragement and knowledge shared by the running community. Yes, I DID THIS, I did the work and I ran the race,  but I truly believe I could not have done it without YOU backing me. I ran eleven races, everything from 5K to Half Marathons. My ‘Twelfth race of Christmas’ will be the Kris Kringle 5 Mile Run in Leesport PA on December 29th 2019. In 2020 I plan to run twice as many races as I continue to train towards running full marathons, and eventually ultra marathons.  A side effect result of my  running is that I have encouraged others to do likewise. A year ago, I could not have done this, now I can. You change the world by your example, not your opinion. Be the change you wish to see.

On the flip side, if your had a lack-luster year, take a long hard look in the mirror. Don’t play the blame game, OWN IT.  If you did little or nothing, YOU did little or nothing.  The one thing we all get each day is the same 24hrs. The wealthy and the poor, the successes and failures, and the happy and the not.  If you’re not an example, then you become a cautionary tale. Don’t be ‘THAT GUY’.  We all have a ‘THAT GUY’, someone we know in life who did nothing with their life, and we can’t fathom why they ‘let themselves go’. Everyone wants to be around successful happy people. Their positive energy draws folks like a magnet. Like the angel Clearance reminded George Bailey in the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, no man is a failure if he has friends.  But don’t despair, God allows U-turns. Christmas Day is in three days. Enjoy the wonder and beauty of the season, and take a long winter’s nap.  Rest up, in six days it will be New Year’s Eve. Pick yourself up, dust off your failures and start again. 2020 is a whole new year.  Don’t waste it! Learn from your mistakes and try something different. If you don’t know where to start, I have written 112 other articles covering just about every aspect pertaining to self-improvement.  The one thing have been doing ever January 1st for years is I read the Gospel of John. It’s one of the 66 books of the Bible. Christmastime is inseparable from Christ, and there are many sources of inspiration and encouragement to be found in the pages of the Holy scripture. I could not have reached the height I have attained without Jesus. God is good, always!   

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http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com will return in January 2020 with new content. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and as always I wish you success and happiness.  

FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!

Your health is up to you!

for your own good

(Part one of a two part series on nutrition and exercise)

Life is what you make of it. If you’re fortunate enough to live in the USA, you get to enjoy enormous personal freedoms and rights to pursue your personal happiness. You can have anything you want in this country IF you’re willing to put in the time and work for it. This applies to both your personal wealth, and your person health. These are two sides of the same coin, and the wealthier you become, the better your ability to eat healthier nutritious foods. Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth is your health! You are the ONLY person in charge of YOU. You are responsible for your own life, and this also applies to diet and exercise. There is no shortage of food in this nation, but not everything you can eat is good for you. High quality foods, organic fruits and vegetables, vitamins and supplements can be pricey. Junk food such as soda and candy have nearly no nutritional value and is bad for your health. You should be asking yourself two questions:

1) If cheap ‘JUNK’ food is ‘BAD’ for me, shouldn’t I be investing my money in buying higher quality foodstuffs and nutritional supplements?

 2) If I only get ONE body, shouldn’t I be investing my money in keeping it as healthy as possible?  

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Helps build strong bodies 12 ways!    

Nutrients are substances that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. There are seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water. Some of these classes can be further subdivided into a list of about 40 essential items, and then assigned specified amounts thereof for each item based upon an individual’s size, age, and gender.  You cannot entirely eliminate ANY of these seven classes and survive for long. Going without eating anything, AKA starvation will kill you in about a month. Likewise going just a week without water will do you in. Eliminating various vitamins and minerals will cause all sorts of health complications  which if left unchecked will shorten your lifespan.

Your body uses carbs and fats for energy. Protein is needed for building lean muscle. The entirety of our daily caloric intake comes from a combination of these essential three nutrients. The other four have virtually zero caloric impact but the body needs these substances to function properly. Your body will store fats as a ‘back-up’ fuel source, while burning carbs (glucose) first, and will store any unused carbs as fat. When glucose and fat stores are depleted, your body will turn to muscle to break it into individual amino acids for energy. Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store amino acids, which is why muscle breakdown is the only way to release amino acids for fuel. If you’re at the point where your body is breaking down your muscles for fuel, you hit the point where you are in starvation mode. You DO NOT want your muscles breaking down.  Your heart is a muscle.

If you’re uncertain what a carb, or carbohydrate is, the very simple answer is sugar aka glucose. An apple or a piece of broccoli is a carb. So is a candy bar. Obviously one is better than the other for your body, while the tempting JUNK food is sickeningly sweet. Processed, refined sugar is the worst possible carb to put into your body.     

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

About two thirds of the Earth is covered in water.  Coincidentally the human body is a similar composition, made up of about 60% water. We lose water from our bodies three ways by : urination, sweating, and breathing. Under extreme circumstances, it’s possible for a person to lose more than  a liter of water per hour when exerting themselves in high heat.  Under such conditions it is imperative to replenish that lost liquid and stay hydrated. Failure to do so can result in heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke and possible death.  

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Water has ZERO calories and our body needs it to maintain proper functions of our internal organs.  Water is needed to metabolize fats and flush toxins from our system. When we begin to lose water from our body without replenishing it during long periods of exertion and exposure to high temperatures, our body will use its innate intelligence to retain this vital nutrient because it believes we are in STARVATION mode and will do everything to retain water to prevent dehydration. You’ll show sighs of heat exhaustion. So you’ll urinate less and your urine will darken as toxins begin to build in your liver and kidneys.  At a certain point your body will shut down your ability to sweat, and then the your are in serious risk of heat stroke. Sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling.  As you experience heat exhaustion, there will be several signs.

  • Confusion.
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration).
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

When you reach the point when your skin gets clammy and you stop sweating, you need to STOP what you are doing immediately and cool down and get hydrated FAST. Heatstroke KILLS.

Pure, clean, cool water is the best thing you can ever drink. Yes, our body can filter out the water from other things we drink like soda, but nothing is better for us than water. Water was good enough for Jesus and it should be good enough for you as well. Water is your body’s best friend, and you can’t make coffee without it! Check back next week for part two IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING  and as always, I wish you success and happiness!

 

TEMPTED?

You are stronger than you think!

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In the USA, the 4th Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day.  The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. So the holiday officially originated in what was known as the ‘New World’ at the time. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Because some years had a fifth Thursday in November, this date was later changed from the last Thursday to the 4th Thursday by Congress who passed a law on December 26, 1941 fixing the date after a public outcry when President Franklin D Roosevelt kept changing the date from year to year.

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The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879.  In 1957 Canadians established their Thanksgiving Day as the 2nd Monday of October, (which is Columbus Day in the US). Thanksgiving may pre-date both the US and Canada as countries, but it began here on the North American continent.  Over the decades other traditions such as the Thanksgiving Parade, football games, and certain foods have evolved with the holiday, and in some instances it has spread to other a few other countries. There are nine other nations besides the US that have a version of Thanksgiving which is associated with giving thanks for the bounty of the annual harvest.  Canada, Norfolk Island, Liberia, and Granada have similar versions of the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving associated with the USA.  Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Japan each have their own unique versions of a ‘thanksgiving day’.    

Financially, the average cost of feeding a family of ten, with leftovers, is under $50.00 according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey.  That of course is ASSUMING you have a sane amount of food, and make most of the food from scratch. Some families go way overboard with with holiday meals.  

The beginning of the holiday season marks an abundance of calorie-laden, rich fattening foods, coupled with less physical activity as people spend more time indoors to avoid the chill of winter, and lessening amounts of daylight. For people struggling with their health and finances, Thanksgiving dinner marks the first half of a double-whammy, as next month they get to do it ‘once more’ with a fattening, expensive Christmas dinner.

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Focus on what’s important.

My first permanent health decision as an adult occurred in college when I made up my mind once and for all to become a vegetarian. This was a lifestyle choice that my late mother could not quite wrap her mind around.  My mother DID NOT COOK.  I kid you not, the woman could burn water.  We ate our holiday meals at my aunt Arleen’s home. Thanksgiving dinner was easy, there were many choices that were ‘meat-free’ on the table. Christmas dinner was not. That first Christmas I refused to eat my aunt’s famous lasagna which she slaved for days to make. She made the sauce from scratch, she shredded the mozzarella by hand on a cheese-grater, she browned Italian sausage and ground beef, boiled noodles, mixed cheeses, and assembled pans of lasagna. Enough to feed everyone, except one resilient vegetarian, who ate cheese pizza while everyone feasted.  Fortunately my aunt understood. The following year, she made a small, special, personal cheese lasagna for her favorite nephew.

So, you have to ask yourself, what’s more important? The food on the table? Your personal health? Or, are the people seated around the table the real reason to celebrate? 

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Choose wisely.

Just  because there are NINE different desserts doesn’t mean you MUST eat each and every one of them.  Heavens to Betsy  if you should miss aunt Betsy’s special cracker pudding.  Or Grandma’s famous jasmine rice pudding with golden raisins and chopped pistachios. Or cousin Ethel’s pecan pie. Believe it or not, some of the more common desserts like pumpkin pie are available year round. The special family dishes that your family worked so hard making are the more important dishes.  The dishes that they made as a token of their love for their family and friends gathered.  Yes, there are signature recipes that are associated with the people we know and love, but the people are the important part of the gathering.  So ignore the more common foods when planning the meal, and highlight the dishes that are unique to your gathering.  If there are still too many choices available, your other option is smaller portions.  Maybe a table spoon of the cranberry relish, or a half-scoop of mashed potatoes.     The key is not to over-eat.

Water is your friend.

So you STILL have a plate of high-calorie fatty foods after making the agonizing choice of passing on the coconut custard pie with whip cream topping and nut meg.  Limit your drink choices to water. A glass of water before, during, and after a meal will fill you up while helping to metabolize fats and flush toxins from your system.  The sparkling juices, sodas (and in some cases alcohol) only add empty calories and will ruin your diet.

Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y

The food may all taste delicious, but it still takes about 20-30 minutes for your brain to register that you have eaten enough food.  By eating your meal at a more reasonable speed, you might discover that you weren’t   really starving to death after all, and you might actually get to participate in the lively dinner chatter around the table.  By giving yourself time to actually eat your food instead of shoveling it in your mouth, you may find that that second helping of whatever is not needed, because you are full.

Keep active

Yes, it’s winter and the days are shorter and colder, but there are still ways to stay active. If you are a runner like myself, you can still find winter 5K races, even on Thanksgiving Day in some cases. You just have to dress appropriately for the weather.  If you don’t like being out in the cold, there’s always the gym.  Many fitness chains have extended holiday hours, or  24hr locations to accommodate the heath conscious individual.  The key to success  in maintaining your healthy lifestyle is to MAINTAIN it.  If you fall off the health-wagon for ONE holiday meal, it’s not the end of the world. That ONE SLICE of pumpkin pie didn’t make you fat, giving up did.  So enjoy the healthy choices you made for your meal, ignore the items you passed on, and celebrate the day with your family and friends. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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THE ‘I’ IN TEAM!

What role do you play?

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There are many different kinds of teams, and many synonyms to label them. 

  • crew
  • club
  •  company
  •  lineup
  • organization
  •  party
  •  side
  •  squad
  •  unit

Did you forget any? How about FRIENDS? FAMILY? CO-WORKERS??

You may have heard the old saying ‘There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM’. Simply put, the reply to this is yes, and no. Strictly speaking, when you spell the four letter word out TEAM , there is no letter ‘I’. Now there is a popular joke response floating about the internet that IF you type the word TEAM in certain fonts, you get a lowercase ‘i’ hidden in the negative space of the letter ‘A’. Often the caption that follows is something like ‘I found the ‘i’, it’s hidden in the ‘A-hole’.  This can be true in more ways than one.

First off, let’s address the ‘I’ in TEAM.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’

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Teams are groups of INDIVIDUALS working TOGETHER for a common goal. So the ‘I’ in TEAM stands for INDIVIDUAL, and that has good points and bad points.  Every INDIVIDUAL is unique and has unique needs which have to be addressed. Sometimes these individuals add skills and qualities to the group dynamic that improves the group’s overall performance. That is where the acronym T.E.A.M. comes into play, because TOGETHER EACH ACHIEVES MORE. It’s a wonderful thing when it works out that way, but  sometimes you get those negative elements that don’t play well with others. They are  the ‘a-holes’ bringing down the team.  In those cases, that negative player must either be corrected, or at worst cut, for the greater good of the squad. We are ALL individuals, and WE are all UNIQUE, and we each have our respective roles to play. We don’t always get to pick our teams, sometimes  teams pick us, and other times we are thrown together  by circumstance. Not everyone in the same organization will get along all the time, or even like each other.  Whether you like it or not, you on still on each other’s team. In those trying situations, the INDIVIDUAL you need to focus on is YOURSELF. Are you the solution, or part of the problem?   

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Who’s in charge around here?

Every effective group has someone leading the organization. Being a leader takes courage, discipline, and determination.  It is a very hard job that can be lonely. You can be open to harsh criticism when things aren’t going well, be accused of playing favorites, insulted by underlings who don’t like your leadership style, or feel you don’t recognize their contributions. Occasionally these gripes are true. We’ve all had bad bosses at one time or another. Leadership, like any new skill takes time to develop. Sometimes, happenstance requires that a void in the chain of command be filled. If no qualified  INDIVIDUAL can be found, willing volunteers may be asked to pick up the mantle, or have it forcibly thrust upon them.  This is what is sometimes referred to as ‘trial by fire’. You’ll either rise to the occasion, or burn out. If you suddenly find that you are now the ‘captain of the ship’, then YOU need to act like it, and run things as best as possible, while consulting with other captains of other ships, reading the appropriate manuals, and making the tough calls. This also includes listening to the questions and concerns of your subordinates, some of whom may have more seniority than you.

IF you find that YOU are NOT in a position of authority, and the duly appointed captain refuses to acknowledge the approaching iceberg, YOU have two choices.

Stay the course and hope for the best, or abandon ship.

The LONE WOLF

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As a  leader, we MAY be able to force someone to do something they don’t want to do, but they won’t do it well, and may even quit or take action against us.

As a team-mate, we MAY be able to convince our squad to run a play, but everyone would need to be on board and, the team leader would still need to agree to it. There may be repercussions if we just did it without authorization, EVEN IF IT WORKED.

As an INDIVIDUAL, you can always convince yourself to do anything you really want to do.

Sometimes it’s just impossible to find a group that fits, or create a new group, or convince an old group to try something different that you really want to do.  The lone wolf has total freedom, but that freedom comes at the cost of camaraderie.  One really is the loneliest number, but regret is also a terrible thing.  If your team or group is holding you back, it may be time to explore new horizons and challenges solo. This requires a special kind of courage and strength, because the path of the lone wolf is the toughest.  If you falter and need help, you’re on your own. There’s no one to recognize your accomplishments, or say ‘good job’ at the end.  Only YOU can decide if it’s worth the risk of going it alone, or facing the regret of never knowing if you could have done it.  As INDIVIDUALS we all have the option of taking our ball and going home,  or finding new groups to play with, or just practicing our skills alone. Self-improvement  begins with SELF. No matter where we go, there we are. We can be part of many different groups simultaneously, but wherever we chose to be we need to bring our ‘A-game’ and give it our best effort.

 We cannot control the actions of other people, we ultimately can only control ourselves.   As always, I wish you success and happiness.